My friend Simpson,
who has a similar business to mine, was on the phone. He was in the mood
to talk and, as it quite often does, the subject turned to politics.
Itís never a pretty
conversation. I make one or two comments and then hold the phone six
inches from my ear as Simpson launches into a sermon on how Bill Clinton
and his bleeding-heart liberal buddies are sending the economy and,
incidentally, the country, down the tubes.
On those rare occasions when I
dare to make a comment refuting Simpsonís ideology, I am told in no
uncertain terms that I am an idiot and should go read a book. Any book
would do, I suppose, but Simpson would prefer I start with the
autobiography of Rush Limbaugh.
Obviously, Simpson is very secure
with his pro-business, intensely conservative roots. But politics
evidently works in strange ways. While he is perfecting his goose-step
march and brainwashing impressionable citizens into his "Simpson
youth" brigade, he is also working behind the scene.
"By the way," he said
after he had finished his diatribe on the liberal goofballs that are
ruining the country, "Iím going to that fundraiser for our favorite
member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Wednesday night. Want
This Supervisor has devoted most
of his life to public service and is widely expected to run for mayor in
the next election. And, most interestingly, he is as liberal as the day is
"What are you doing
contributing money into his campaign chest?" I cried. "Donítí
you realize that you detest 92 percent of everything he believes in?"
"So?" replied Simpson.
"At least I know him."
That was true. The Supervisor was
about our age and both Simpson and I had come to know him a little through
mutual friends. We had found him to be bright, articulate, honest and
hardworking. And dedicated to many of the liberal causes Simpson abhors.
"Look," said Simpson
when I pressed him for a further explanation, "youíre dealt the
cards you have to play. Our businesses are in San Francisco and,
unfortunately, San Francisco is full of liberal politicians. Itís not
like I have a big choice."
"Do you think you can get in
there and change his ideology?" I asked.
"I doubt it. But at least Iíll
have some access to him, which is more than I can say about anyone else.
And it wonít hurt him to hear my conservative pro-business views. Even
your buddy Clinton has David Gergen to balance his liberal rantings and
impressed," I said. "I thought youíd never support anyone
other than Jesse Helms. Youíre deeper than I ever imagined."
"Thank you," replied Simpson.
"Now write a check for the fundraiser."
"No way. Iím not going. I donít
play that game."
"What game?" cried Simpson.
"You agree with most of his views. Heís your kind of guy."
"Oh, yeah, I forgot," I
said. "Itís just very difficult for me to support someone youíre
"If you donít want to go
to the fundraiser, just give me a check so I can give it to him."
I thought about that. As a
business owner, Iím asked from time to time to contribute to various
campaigns. Itís not my favorite thing to do, but usually someone twists
my arm hard enough to make me do it.
Simpson kept twisting until I agreed to
make a measly $100 contribution, enough to buy a round of drinks for a few
of the party-goers.
Iíll hand it to him personally,"
said Simpson when I gave him a check later that day. "Heíll really
"Iíll bet he will," I said
suddenly realizing what Simpson was up to. "And youíll get all the
credit for not only going to the fundraiser, but bringing extra cash to
add to the campaign coffers."
"So that means your
influence might increase. Which means I have just paid to make it even
easier for a right-wing Fascist to have the ear of a possible future mayor
of San Francisco."
Simpson smiled. He knew I was
exaggerating. This Supervisor had a mind of his own and, besides, Simsponís
views were closer to Reaganís than they were to Mussoliniís. Barely.
Nevertheless, I made a futile stab at
retrieving my check before Simpson pocketed it.